Jens Stoltenberg for Turkish S-400: Decisions About Military Procurement Are for Nations to Make
BRUSSELS , Belgium (BulgarianMilitary.com) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, commending Turkey’s contributions to the alliance, emphasized that NATO allies stand in solidarity with Turkey as it faces serious security challenges, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, quoting Anadolu Agency.
Stoltenberg answered the questions of Anadolu Agency in Brussels ahead of his visit to Turkey on Monday and Tuesday. He will chair a meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) partners in the capital Ankara. Separately, he will have bilateral meetings with senior Turkish government officials.
Commenting on a wide range of issues including the agenda of his visit, purchase of S-400 air and missile defense system, NATO’s contribution to Turkey, Stoltenberg thanked Turkey for hosting a special meeting of the North Atlantic Council in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD).
Q1: The Turkish decision to purchase S-400 air and missile defense system has caused a lot of controversy, especially between two NATO allies, the U.S. and Turkey and Turkey has recently come under a lot of criticism. In turn, the Turkish government has been indicating that it has tried to meet its urgent needs in air and missile defense primarily through its NATO allies, like U.S. patriot systems. It argues that the offer from the U.S. came very late, it is high in cost and does not meet Turkey’s expectations. In light of this, do you think Turkey deserves the criticism it has received on the purchase of the S-400’s? What is your position?
Stoltenberg: This is a challenging issue, and it is important that there is an ongoing dialogue between Turkey and the United States.
I welcome and encourage the discussions about Turkey’s possible acquisition of a U.S. patriot missile system, and also welcome that Turkey, France and Italy continue their efforts on the definition and development of a long-range air and missile defense system. This is important for NATO because key allies are involved and because we encourage allies to purchase equipment which is able to operate together.
Decisions about military procurement are for nations to make. But, as I have said, interoperability of our armed forces is fundamental to NATO for the conduct of our operations and missions.
We must also remember that since 2013 NATO allies have been reinforcing Turkey’s air defenses. Spain and Italy have missile batteries deployed near Turkey’s southern border. Their Patriot and SAMP-T systems help defend Turkey against the threat of missiles from across the border with Syria. The mission is important and NATO allies are committed to it.
Q2: The S-400 debate has also reflected upon the Turkish public opinion, leading many to question NATO’s contribution to Turkey’s defense and security and Turkish membership to NATO. What would be your message to the Turkish people regarding NATO’s contribution to Turkey’s security?
Stoltenberg: NATO allies stand with Turkey as you face serious security challenges. As well as protecting Turkey with air and missile defense systems, NATO has enhanced patrols by AWACS surveillance planes over Turkish territory. These can monitor and track potential air space violations, supporting Turkey’s efforts to defend its air space. All NATO allies are members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/Daesh, and working together, we have liberated all the territory once held by this terrorist group. NATO’s new training mission in Iraq is also helping to boost stability in the region. At last month’s meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, we also agreed a package of possible actions to enhance the security of the Black Sea region. All this shows NATO’s commitment to the defense of Turkey.
Turkey, bordering Iraq and Syria, is the ally most exposed to violence and turmoil from the Middle East. Your country has also suffered a series of horrific terrorist attacks. All NATO allies stand together in our determination to fight terrorism in all its forms.
You can read full interview here.
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Source: Anadolu Agency